New York Times Quietly Edits “1619 Project” After Conservative Pushback

HERITAGE IMPACT

New York Times Quietly Edits “1619 Project” After Conservative Pushback

September 26th, 2020

The Heritage Foundation has been tireless in its efforts to debunk the radical and anti-American positions taken by The New York Times and the “1619 Project.” Photo by Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images

The online version of The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” was quietly edited after considerable pushback from conservatives, including multiple Heritage Foundation scholars.

Sections of the online publication were scrubbed for controversial language without even an editor’s note to explain the changes. The edits focus mainly on the thesis that America’s true founding was August 1619, marking the arrival of the first slaves in present-day Virginia.

Originally the leading text on the landing page for the digital version of the project read: “The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

The original reference to the “true founding” was subsequently removed to read: “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

The Heritage Foundation has been tireless in its efforts to debunk the radical and anti-American positions taken by The New York Times and the “1619 Project” since it was first published. Heritage experts have thoroughly documented the factual errors, appeared on numerous radio and television interviews, and published dozens of commentaries.


In a piece written shortly after the release of the “1619 Project,” then-Heritage policy analyst John York observed: “To the Times, the dates and documents that typically mark our starting point do not deserve that honor. ... Our Founders’ own statements at the Constitutional Convention, speeches, and private correspondence thereafter paint a very different picture of their views on slavery and how it shaped the Constitution.”

Heritage visiting fellow Allen Guelzo was among a group of leading historians to document the project’s many factual inaccuracies. After heavy condemnation from experts like Guelzo, The New York Times made their first of many edits to the piece.

As Heritage policy expert Jonathan Butcher noted, “In the paper’s correction, editors changed the wording of [Nikole] Hannah-Jones’ leading article in the series to say that ‘some of’ the colonists fought the American Revolution to defend slavery.”

Butcher, a senior policy analyst for Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, continued to hammer the Times on its anti-Americanism.

“The editors called this a ‘small’ clarification, and it was indeed very small, although considering that the 1619 Project’s full-throated commitment to demonstrating that American history can only be explained through the lens of slavery, this correction appears nothing short of essential,” Butcher wrote. “Left unanswered today are other needed corrections to more than one of the project’s essays.”

Even though the “1619 Project” has been repeatedly debunked by conservatives, the left is still attempting to weaponize the project to indoctrinate America’s youth.

Guelzo, for example, criticized the decision to award Nikole Hannah-Jones a Pulitzer Prize for the “1619 Project.”

“The Pulitzer will help The New York Times face down the discovery that the 1619 Project—and not just Hannah-Jones’ lead essay—is riddled with mistakes and exaggerations,” Guelzo wrote. “Among the most egregious of those errors are the claims that the American Revolution was designed to protect slavery. That no shred of evidence for this assertion exists did nothing to discourage the energy with which it was promoted in Hannah-Jones’ lead essay.”

Heritage senior fellow Mike Gonzalez, the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum fellow, put it this way: “The 1619 Project isn’t just a series of articles placing slavery at the center of the American story. It is also a curriculum that is sweeping the land. No sooner had the prize been announced than The Pulitzer Center—which is independent of the prizes—was using it to promote that curriculum. The center boasted that it had “connected curricula based on the work of Hannah-Jones and her collaborators to some 4,500 classrooms since August 2019.”

Heritage has created its own curriculum resource for parents as well as “A Celebration of America,” rebutting attempts by the left to rewrite history.

Recently, on Constitution Day, President Donald Trump weighed in. He announced the creation of a “1776 Commission” designed explicitly to counter the harmful narratives propagated by anti-American initiatives, including the “1619 Project.” Trump cited the work of another Heritage visiting fellow, Wilfred McClay, in his speech.